Wednesday, March 14, 2007

...with you...for you...always

In which Ludwig confesses...

Clearly, the same fellow (there can't be more than one such person, can there?) who comes up with those saccharine "messages" in your average Hallmark/Archies/whathaveyou greeting cards, has also been employed by the AP State Police to jazz up their website. This cousin of Madeleine Bassett is possibly to be found in the musty, file-smelling depths of the police commissionerate, occasionally referring to castor oil stained copies of the Gettysburg Address type documents, thoughtfully chewing on a pen and dribbling ink, while he comes up with such gems as "...with you...for you...always". He is kept in residence through the elegant and time tested ball and chain mechanism. His incarceration makes him crabby and irritable ever so often, and therefore has to be fed through a system of underarm bowling[1].

This post is not about Mr. Hallmark. Aeons ago, on our way back from Why Naad, an incident happened in that den of vice, Bangalore bus station. We lost cash, credit cards, license(s), PAN card etc. Mostly our fault, for leaving the wallet on the enquiry counter, like dangling a juicy full toss...

Preliminary enquiries indicated that to replace license and PAN, we would need that dreaded piece of literature that emanates from the bowels of police stations, the FIR. Being Newtonian (refer to Law I (of motion)), we let things be. After decades of living without any ID proof apart from passport, and having entered a new phase of joblessness, we got our act together and decided to start the process for replacing license and PAN card.

The whole PAN card replacement process, it turns out, is a total breeze. In the year or so that we sat on our butts, they made the whole thing automated, web-ified and so on, and all one has to do (if one has a photocopy of the original PAN card/PAN issue letter) is go online, fill in a fairly simple form, pay by credit card, take a printout, attach mugshot, mail it, and wait. Observe carefully that there is no mention of police or FIR.

The license replacement procedure, on the other hand is a pain in the posterior. One apparently needs an FIR. According to the AP Motor Vehicles Rules (1989), Chapter - II (Licensing of Drivers of Motor Vehicles), Rule 15 (Intimation when license lost or destroyed and application for duplicate) (yes, we are like this vonly), all one has to do is fill in Form LLD, pay the fee, and hey presto. No mention of FIR. However, that High Priest of RTA Shrines, the "RTA agent", tells various family members that an FIR is a necessary precondition for getting a duplicate license. So we girded our loins (disgusting as that sounds), and found out that the following steps needed to be executed:
  1. Pay a fee of Rs. 100 to the Police Department at your friendly neighbourhood eSeva centre.
  2. Take receipt (from Step 1 above), copy of lost license, and a letter addressed to the Inspector of Police in charge of the police station (PS) with the necessary details, and propagate rectilinearly to the PS.
  3. Submit forms, get signatures vagera ityaadi, and you should be able to pick up the thingy.
What follows is a tale of what actually happened. We girded our loins (yes, it's disgusting), and
  1. Went to eSeva and paid Rs. 100. Duly pocketed receipt.
  2. Next day, showed up at the Begumpet PS, bright eyed and bushy tailed, with the necessary (or so we thought) paperwork.
  3. Inspector gaaru informs us that they need a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Police Control Room to issue the papers.
  4. *sigh* Set off for the control room. Asked at the building downstairs (where people were lined up paying challans) as to who one needs to approach to get the NOC. Directed to multi-storey building.
  5. Asked the "helpful", "enquiry" chap in the lobby where one needs to go. Directed to 2nd floor.
  6. Asked vacant eyed individual, directed to the "Computer Section".
  7. Asked Bakaasura, and he says, "Your lucky day, dude. I'm da man. However, you needst go downstairs and get Ms. Phoolandevi to sign on your application."
  8. Went downstairs and after several enquiries found oneself at the end of the line, back at the challan counter.
  9. Paperwork is swallowed by one set of hands, does the rounds, and is spit out of another window by another set of hands.
  10. Hurried to Bakaasura. He starts filling out the NOC, and subtly (not) angling for pocket money.

    "You see, yours is a Vizag license, and we can't actually issue this NOC here."

    "But my friend from Bihar got his license renewed in Hyderabad."

    "Ah, that's different, we're allowed to do that."
    "What do you do?"

    "Unemployed, saar."

    "What did you study?"

    "BE civil engineering, saar, Madras, saar."

    [We'd taken care to wear our most unobtrusive check-shirt, khaki pant, for the harmless citizen look.]

    Before one could say "Ix", he'd pocketed Rs. 20 and given us the certificate. We were mortified. Ears got all warm and shiny from shame and anger, at having copped out, at not having the gumption to face up to this ogre and get our schtuff done without under the counter transactions.

    With burning heart and a conscience that was totally sitting on left shoulder (mit halo) and frowning down, we headed back to PS.
  11. We resolved to not bow to such sliminess any more (at this juncture, we must mention that we were in no inconsiderable part influenced by our readings at Fanaa, and handed all the little, sweaty (by now), pieces of paper to the Inspector, who quickly scribbled something in Elvish, and signed.
  12. Handed papers over to Grima looking clerical type (out of uniform) in the Computer Section.
  13. Grima says, "Oh, you need to photocopy all these. Go to Prakash Nagar and get it done and come back quickly."
  14. Off we went, in the mid-afternoon blaze. Duly photocopied, trudged back to PS.
  15. Grima takes papers, points to seat in reception area and says, "Wait". So we did.
  16. For an age. Went back into the "Computer Section", whereupon he said, "Oh, it won't get done tonight, come back tomorrow morning." (the code words had started). Confirmed that he would be done on the morrow, and went home at 5:00 ish.
  17. Girded tiggas (yes), and came back next morning, 11:00 ish.
  18. Grima showed up after a bit, and said, "Wait in the reception." and disappeared.
  19. Waited for close to 2 hours. SMSed the bejesus out of Kenny, who seemed to be engaged in cutting edge research (i.e. equally jobless). Kenny had lots of good advice ("You should've taken a book.", "You should've at least taken a notepad and a pen, and scribbled Thoughts.", "You should start muttering RTI audibly, so that they know who they're dealing with (i.e. citizen)." etc.)
  20. At 1:00ish, went back in and found Grima. Who strikes forehead with palm and says, "Tchah! Come back in the evening, you'll definitely get it then." In the manner of Alistair Maclean characters, a medium sized blood vessel on the edge of our temple (Om...) had started to pulsate. We says to ourselves, "OK machii, this is it. Sisupaala got 100 chances, you'll get one more in the evening." and went home.
  21. Meanwhile, perusals of the AP State Police Department's copious RIA page had revealed that the Assistant PIO is the Inspector of Police himself, and that the PIO is the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Begumpet Division). We duly noted this.
  22. Went back in the evening. Waited in reception.
  23. After an hour so of gazing at the vacuous faced guy in the reception, barged into "Computer Section". Grima, was missing.
  24. Another out-of-uniform, clerical type character (looking very harassed), says (to himself), "Why did this moron (Grima) ask people to come back the very next day?" and (to us), "Come back day after tomorrow."
  25. That was it. We lost it, my precious. Barged into Inspector's office. Waved papers. Expressed outrage. The dreaded (hopefully) "RTI" phrase was about to be emitted, when, to our utter and pleasant surprise, the gentleman (Insp.) calls a third Computer Section guy and tells him to deal with "this" immediately.
  26. We went back to waiting in reception. Half an hour elapsed, and the suitably contrite Computer Section person comes out, hands us the certificate we need, and out we waltzed, into the sunset.
What to say? Mixed results, no? Hope, despair. Defeat, victory. Loins, tiggas. Are things getting better? Maybe... If one hadn't showed attitude (and jeans), would all this have played out in this manner? Perhaps not. What happens to people without attitude (and jeans)? Are jeans a metaphor? (Perhaps. Do ours need to be washed? Definitely.)

P.S.: We couldn't find the helpful Inspector after this whole ordeal. We wanted to wring his hands in thanks. In any case, we did the next best thing. Wrote a letter describing the role of his staff in the ordeal, and his in the salvation, and posted it off to him, his boss (ACP) and his boss (DCP).


1. Thanks, Larry.


kbpm said...

your word verification thing said.
"ebewf yourself"
i said to it.
(does that count?)

i was that unhelpful eh? i did provide amusement (which you omitted to mention) by describing in SMS my recent research proposal. i did post on my blog (which you omitted to link to)..oh wait..i did you no such favour you word verifying..something or the other..

these brushes with the various offices holding up our wonderful democracy are remarkable. one just sweats and sweats in there. how come the clerks in their teryene or rayon or such flammable material shirts dont sweat, while one in their carefully chosen cotton clothes does, filling buckets?

Swathi said...

guess u shud've gone ahead and gotten urself a new licence (much easier, less headache) - remember therez no SSN in India so no one wud know that u had a licence before (n a lost one at that...)

Space Bar said...

did you send the letter registered post acknowledgement due? no use if you didnt...

Ludwig said...

[kenny] yes, it counts. most certainly it does. yes, you were most unhelpful. yes, i am a word verifying something-or-other. i hear ya about the sweating in cotton thing. the sweet smell of the government office. a couple of years back, when my schtuff from the land of calories and cholestrol arrived by ship in Bombay, i had to spend an "interesting" day in a customs shed near Colaba. a whole other story there...

[swathi] yeah, true. thought about that, but then again the 1 month learner's license, the driving test, the whole hoo-haa, was almost as unappetizing as the FIR/police complaint route. it seemed to be a twelve of one and a dozen of the other case. we are suitably chastised now!

[space bar] really? registered letter with acknowledgement due? even when i damn them with faint praise? i was thinking that only cribs need registration... oh well, as they say anthaa kashtapadey scene ledu types...

golludriel said...

"somethings that should not have been forgotten were lost"

translation: if you don't quickly post le: hally pottel, i will, precioussss

evyxxoye: a new drug developed by pfioxx inc. to give you shiny hair. originally developed to combat irritable bowing syndrome.
pronounced: evixx !oye

warning: some side effects are tingling, nausea, diarrhea, hallucinations, housemaid's knee and compulsive bowing. please consult your astrologer before taking.

Ph said...

While we have been hiding under a stone you have been up to all kinds of nonsense. The kind of nonsense that we like to comment on. I would have liked to say, dil, vil, pyaar vyaar mai kya janoo rey. We also want to say yay for the Nokia purchase. We approve. Since you didn't ask. Also, what is this business of wearing cotton shirts, polyester shirts, we insist. And please in pastels or bright colors. And, like we like to say, last but not least (erm we changed the rules a little), npmvjik: No problem, meevu very jovial indian kid. So Happy Birthday. Please to accept belated wishes. There, we covered it all.

The Black Mamba said...

good piece. feel the pain - bureaucracies are the same everywhere, sigh.

[We'd taken care to wear our most unobtrusive check-shirt, khaki pant, for the harmless citizen look.]

- new uniform for the common man, aye?

and what is this, I say? people are still wishing appy bday and all? hope it was all happy and nice.

And, you take notepad and pen to scribble your thoughts?! wow!

sjcfinl: finnish for, I will get to the beer once I am done with this sauna.

Ludwig said...

[golludriel] gollubai, all in good time. it's coming, it's coming. evixxoye yourself.

[ph] what a tour de force of a comment. briefly touched upon this, flitted over that, lightly licked the other, and so forth. well done. thanks for the blated wishes. polyester and pastel? hmm...

[fast, lethal, snake] the check-shirt frayed-pant combo is pretty much the makkal type of costume in the city in the south, n'est ce pas?

the day was happy and nice, thank you. dotage, however, sucks. note carefully, we didn't take a notepad and scribble. Kenny suggested we take a notepad and scribble. Kenny would've. Kenny's like that.

sjcfinl! with the sun beating down on us in the manner that it is, we must echo the Finnish sentiment.

csm said...

lud - good show. to get it done in 4 days (did i count right?) is quite something.
next time, catch grima and feed him to ...(i think i shall spare the vultures).
you could even, if you get the courage, do what happened in lage raho munnabhai in the old-man-pension story.
you should have sent the letter to eenadu also mate. surely it would have gotten published :-)

that man keynes is about said...

long live bureaucracy. long live the peoples revolution.

long live ludwig

too-long-lived tmkahhhi

Ludwig said...

[csm] thanks. yes, 4 days, give or take. i really feel i should've tom-tomed that letter a bit more. alack, for now it will be treated as having been sucked into the Void.

[tmkia] muerte a toda tmkahhi?